Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has become the first major party presidential campaign in USA to unionize. The campaign announced Friday that it had voluntarily recognized a bargaining unit organized with the United Food and Commercial Workers. The news comes amid a budding movement to organize campaign workers in the notoriously tough working environment that is the campaign trail.
The progressive senator has been a vocal supporter of the Fight for $15 movement; teachers in cities across the country who have staged walkouts to demand fair pay; and other labor campaigns. His support for a unionized campaign staff was presented as an extension of that work as well as a signal of the policies he will promote should he win the presidency. “We cannot just support unions with words, we must back it up with actions,” Sanders said. “On this campaign and when we are in the White House, we are going to make it easier for people to join unions, not harder.”
Sanders’ campaign staffers will become members of the UFCW’s Local 400, which represents 35,000 workers in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and several other states. The union has traditionally represented food and retail workers. Currently 44 staff members are eligible to join the union, but organizers say about 1,000 people working in Washington, Vermont, and across the country could eventually be represented by the bargaining unit.
In recent weeks, Sanders has taken steps to address reports of pay inequality, discrimination, and harassment on his 2016 campaign. On social media, supporters praised the senator for becoming the first 2020 candidate to formally recognize a unionized staff—following in the footsteps of progressive candidates like Cynthia Nixon, who ran for governor of New York last year; Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who became the first sitting member of Congress whose staff was represented by a union. Some political observers also noted that other Democratic candidates may now feel increased pressure to endorse the unionization of their own staff members.
Source: Huffpost and